Prepare for a full-store physical inventory

Written By Ascend knowledge base (Administrator)

Updated at January 8th, 2024

Your store should plan for a physical full-store inventory count once a year. Every salable product is counted, regardless of location (e.g. sales floor, back stock, warehouse, etc.). Physical inventory counts are performed by store section, not by category. This method ensures no products are missed during the count.

While your store is closed for a physical inventory count:

  • Do not allow customers to drop off products for work orders or returns.
  • Do not process sales, layaways, or work orders.
  • Scan all products currently for sale (on the sales floor or in backstock).
  • Do not scan:
    1. Items on layaway transactions.
    2. Items on work order transactions.
    3. Unreceived orders.
    4. Non-inventory items (e.g. miscellaneous hardware for repairs).
    5. (multi-store retailers) Pending transfer items.

One Month Before

At least a month beforehand, you should pick out a day for the full-store inventory. When choosing the date, consider the following:

  1. Expect your physical inventory count to take a full day and schedule your employees accordingly.
  2. Pick out a day for the full-store inventory. The shop needs to be closed to customers during your inventory. This is key to help you maintain accurate numbers for products scanned, or physically counted. It also stops you from getting distracted every few minutes with customer questions. 
    Close on the slowest day of the week. Use Ascend's Sales > Sales by Day of Week report to help you determine the best day for closing.

Inform your employees and customers of your inventory count date. Display the date prominently. Update your social media accounts, send an email or two, put posters up in the shop and around town, buy billboards, rent planes! Do whatever you need to do to ensure everyone knows when you'll be closed.

Reduce your inventory as much as possible. Only order necessary products. Use the Inventory > Aged Inventory by Date report to view a list of products that are not selling through. Many retailers use this time to create a sales Promotion for older items.

Familiarize your staff with full process to be followed on the actual date of your inventory count by reading through our knowledge base articles.

Audit your product labels (see How does a label audit work?) You can easily have a staff members work on this if they have down time. Give them a scanner and have them start scanning items. Make sure they get all “good beeps”. "Good beeps" should pull up the right product information on the scanner screen, including the right price and SKU.

If they’re getting “bad beeps”, address the issue and get the product a new label. Doing this in advance will save time on inventory day and keep items that don’t scan to a minimum.

One Week Before

  • Run the Remove Duplicate In Store Products utility under Tools > Advanced Database Functions in Ascend. Resolving duplicate SKUs and UPCs ensures that each product in your store is labeled with a unique SKU or UPC.


Duplicate products cannot be reconciled in your system. Resolve these issues ahead of time to minimize time spent addressing product issues on the day of inventory.

  • Use the Category Mapper utility to address products currently in inventory which are not assigned to a category.
  • Head to Reports > Products Sold with No Category because it affects the sales information in Quickbooks integration.
  • Run the Reports > Inventory with Cost Greater Than MSRP report as well and remedy any products configured with an invalid cost.
  • Obtain your inventory supplies:
    1. Painter's tape for marking store sections (It’s important that you specifically get painter’s tape. You do not want to permanently divide up your sales floor by accident),
    2. Paper you can print the section numbers on,
    3. Markers, pens or pencils for initialing completed sections,
    4. and boxes or other containers to hold ""bad beep"" items (items not recognized by the inventory scanners).
  • Assign the roles employees will assume on your inventory date.
    1. Product Investigator(s)
      1. Adds missing product to Ascend.
      2. Re-labels products which cannot be scanned.
      3. Investigates count discrepancies.
    2. Inventory Point Person
      1. Inventory scanner preparation.
      2. Saves scan files to the computer.
      3. Reconciles the count with Ascend (accepting final count)
      4. Your point person should be extremely comfortable with Ascend. 
        For multi-store retailers, if possible, have a single Inventory Point Person go between all locations to assist with inventory to help things go smoothly (and consistently!) across all your stores.
    3. Counters
      1. Physically counts items.
      2. Keeps track of completed sections.
    4. Scanners
      1. Scans products with the inventory scanners.
  • Ensure employees have the appropriate user permissions for their roles. Article: All about the Ascend User permissions 
  • Consider pre-counting large quantities of small parts that are sold very infrequently (e.g. spokes, CO2 cartridges, bearings) using a high-quality scale. Note: Clearly label pre-counted product as such. If any pre-counted products are sold prior to your inventory, ensure that the labeled quantity is updated accordingly.
    1. Weigh one item. Write down the weight.
    2. Weigh all items. Write down the weight.
    3. If weighing items in a container, weigh the empty container. Write down the weight.
    4. If necessary, subtract the recorded container weight from the recorded weight of all items. Write down the adjusted weight.
    5. Divide the adjusted weight of all items by the weight of one item, e.g. 100 (all items) divided by 25 (single item) equals 4 (quantity of all items).
    6. Record the calculated quantity.

Two Days Before

  • Create an Inventory Event for your event in the Inventory Center in Ascend. Article: Using the Inventory Center for Cycle Counts and Full-store Physical Inventory 
  • Fully charge inventory scanner and, if available, spare batteries. Check the battery life indicator on the device.
  • Complete any pending warranty items. Article: Warranty an item 
  • Make sure any Layaways or Work Orders with items that have left your store are converted to finished sales. Article: Create a layaway.
  • Stop receiving orders, and quarantine any new products until after completing your inventory.
  • Multistore retailers should also be sure to verify all pending transfers and halt transfers between stores until your physical inventory count is complete. Article: Transfer products between multi-store locations 

One Day Before

  • If you are using Unitech EA520 or EA500 Plus inventory scanners, you can configure the scanners with your Inventory Event today (to save time tomorrow if there are any issues connecting via your WiFi network).
  • If you are using MC2180 scanners for your inventory, create a specific folder for storing your physical inventory count files.
    1. From the Windows Desktop, right-click in a blank area.
    2. From the displayed menu, select New > Folder.
    3. Enter a descriptive name, e.g. Physical Inventory - <YYYY>.
    4. On the keyboard, press Enter.
  • If you are using an MC2180 or MC1000 inventory scanner, verify an SD memory card is installed in the inventory scanner:
    1. MC1000 model: 2 GB standard only.
    2. MC2180 model: Up to 32 GB microSD.
  • Organize products for ease of scanning.
    1. Label bin and display items. Or, place these items in boxes with scannable barcodes.
    2. Move hard to reach to items within easy reach.
    3. Turn items so that barcodes face front.
  • Using painter's tape, section off your store into small areas for scanning. Be sure to divide the store into sections that can be scanned easily. We recommend keeping sections small; no more than 50 to 75 items at most. As you’re dividing up your shelves and sales floor with section numbers, remember to write any special notes about that section on the section number (such as: include items on the mannequin). For additional details and tips, see the Sectioning the store for a full-store inventory article. 
    Note: Printable section number sheets, including barcodes to quickly switch sections on the Unitech EA500 Plus inventory scanner, can be found on our website (


An average store has 150+ sections.

  • Designate your box/area for "bad beep" or mystery items that do not scan.
  • Now make a copy of your Ascend database by running a backup from your server machine. Article: Tips to keep my system protected 

Additional Resources